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I really hoped I wouldn't be writing this, but I need to figure things out, so here I am.

 

I had our daughter end of May, and for the most part the motherhood thing has been wonderful. I love her so much. So so much it hurts. I am so proud to be her mother, and I need to emphasise this because I feel so guilty about all the rest.

 

I had a pretty rough labor and my body has struggled to recover. That's one thing. On top of that, my husband and I had planned to move to a house (from a one bedroom apartment) just a couple of months after she was born. The house is lovely and in the same village as my office, so on that front I'm also very happy. But, it's a rickety old Dutch house in an old farm village, and there is a lot to do. House is in good shape. But still. It's a house.

 

I have not seen my family much - most of them I haven't seen since Christmas. I live here in the Netherlands, and my whole family is in NY. My parents visited, but I was so stressed and busy with the move and postpartum craziness that I barely feel like I managed to enjoy any time with them.

 

But (sigh) I have to admit the stress factor is 100% coming from my marriage. I hate to say any of this, because my husband is an incredible person. He's the type of guy every woman I know wants to be married to - doting, thoughtful, on top of things, cooks me dinner (honestly, he handles most if not all of the food situation at home), hands-on with our baby and just, overall, a lovely, attractive, loving man. So let me get this straight now: I'm very happy with him and I intend to work this out.

 

The baby, the move and many factors in his family have caused him to be a nagging, at times neurotic, moody, critical person lately and that mixed with my sleep deprivation, homesickness and hormones is a tricky combination. When my parents were visiting my mom noted that my husband was not himself, and she seemed very concerned that I was "walking on eggshells." He was snapping at just about everyone, including my parents, which made me livid and I couldn't keep quiet about how shocked and concerned I was.

 

We've been in a cycle now where he tells me frequently that Im amazing and handling everything beautifully, only to randomly be quiet, sullen and withdrawn for no reason. If I ask what's wrong, he will withdraw further. If he does eventually open up, it's usually in anger, and he'll tell me how he's exhausted because he's "Doing everything" and I'm not doing anything. If I react by telling him all the things I'm doing around the house/ in life in general, he says nothing and then challenges it by saying, "You make that sound like it's much of anything."

 

He's always had a tough spot when it comes to home stuff. he gets restless and hates to clean, and I actually LOVE to clean, so I am the one who usually scrubs the fridge, organises our pantries and closets, irons, and so on. It's a relaxing thing for me, and it helps me feel like my home is in good shape when life gets nuts. But it's almost like, because he doesn't see me sweat over dishes, he doesn't realize that I am doing these things. Because I don't mind and don't complain about getting up three times a night to nurse our baby girl, it's like he forgets I even did it. I'll sometimes be nursing her while he's working on something in the house, and he'll turn and say, "Enjoying a little relax moment?"

 

I cannot stress enough how abundantly out of character all of this is of him. I've reacted by taking a step back and writing to him when calm in a rational way to just say, "look, we need to find a way to chill with each other a little bit..." and he'll agree that he was out of line, he's sorry, he knows I'm doing a lot, etc etc. But then not three days later, he'll make a "joke" about how I am not doing anything, and I will be in the same position of wondering if I need to defend myself and tell him what I'm up to or just try to let it go, even if his comments break me down.

 

I know that he's stressed out. I am too. I just miss how we were before the baby. He's always had his moody moments, but they've never been so pointed right at me. I feel like I cannot move in this house without setting him off. I feel like when I try to take a breather here and there, I'm almost certainly getting behind on something he wants me to help with. I'm also deeply concerned about his stress level because - again - this is truly out of character for him.

 

Ive been trying to find us a couples counsellor for awhile now. It seems to be a fruitless search here, for reasons Ill get into another time. I just know that I cannot keep up with the demands he places on me and I don't want to watch our marriage go down the drain.

 

Any thoughts out there are deeply appreciated. It's hard to write a post like this without making my husband sound like a monster so I do want to emphasise that he does so much for us and I'm sure there is more i can do to let the tense moments pass. I just wish they wouldn't arise to begin with.

 

Ok, vent over.

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I'm sorry Leseine.

 

Your story takes me back to those days of post baby adjustment. I know me telling you that that challenging adjustment time is pretty typical probably doesn't help at this very moment. But I hope there is some comfort in knowing that we all go through it.

 

Have you and your husband had any time alone as a couple? I understand you don't have family close by (?) but are you able to get away for an evening? I think some couple time might bring you two closer and would serve as a great reminder that you two are on the same team and need to support each other.

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I'm sorry Leseine.

 

Your story takes me back to those days of post baby adjustment. I know me telling you that that challenging adjustment time is pretty typical probably doesn't help at this very moment. But I hope there is some comfort in knowing that we all go through it.

 

Have you and your husband had any time alone as a couple? I understand you don't have family close by (?) but are you able to get away for an evening? I think some couple time might bring you two closer and would serve as a great reminder that you two are on the same team and need to support each other.

 

Yes, this and I am sorry to hear about what you are going through. As an aside it melted my heart to read your description about your love for your baby. Oh I can relate, I get it, welcome to mothering and this boundless love!

 

To add - my husband and I had no opportunity for any couple time at this time (no family to watch him, etc and I wouldn't have left our infant with a sitter at that time.

 

I think you need to tell your husband when things are ok/calm using I statements (yes again) that you are particularly vulnerable right now and his 'jokes" hurt your feelings a lot. I wouldn't do the whole list of things you do every day that go unnoticed. It's just not effective IMO despite having so much appeal/being tempting (I'm speaking for myself).

 

Tell him that you need to see consistent change on this issue -not the flip flop yo yo stuff because then you're waiting for the other shoe to drop.

 

Also can you hire someone to clean? When my son was an infant and we lived in a one bedroom the first 3 months we had a lady come every two weeks. She was great and calm and gave me motherly advice too.

 

I totally get that you don't want to paint him as monstrous. You have not, not in the least. I am sure he is sleep deprived/cramped/feeling pushed aside (through no fault of your own -it's just life!).

 

My husband and I had arguments at this time - I still remember clearly many of the details and this was 10 years ago. It was a tough time for sure.

 

Please vent here if it helps. I hope I was supportive. I get it. Everything is going to be all right!

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I think he's got male post partum depression. It's all new to him about how to be a dad and yet have a life. I think a bit of counseling would help both of you learn to communicate better and make the adjustment be being parents. It's not easy, for sure, but with effort it can get better.

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I'm sorry this is happening. Take a deep breath. Take care of your baby and be the same fabulous mum you have always been. Congrats on your little girl. Good for you for being committed in your marriage while at the same time acknowledging when his comments are out of line and recognizing that there's a bit of an unhealthy dynamic happening.

 

I'm curious how much interaction he has with the baby. Does he care for her, bathe her, clean her or spend enough time with her? This is just a hunch but I think he feels left out and neglected.

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I completely relate with this. My pregnancy was a flippin’ mess, I had a lousy recovery team whom I butted heads with (“wake me up every 2 hrs in the middle of the night and I’ll show YOU”)... yup, had similar issues last year when I had my first baby... but my husband lost his job a week before I delivered and was unemployed for 9 months.

 

Not trying to say I had it worse. In a way, I was much like your husband. I *knew* my husband was doing everything he could to take care of the baby while I had to cut my maternity short and essentially bring home the bacon even though it was not enough to keep the bills afloat. Watching our savings dwindle each month and having NO time for me to have a mental break (I went back to work after 4 weeks of maternity) was really pissing me off. I am a control freak and feel the most comfortable when I am in control... and this being out of my control drove me to the edge. My postpartum was at an all-time high, multiple fights occurred, I resented the *%# out of parenthood and missed the former life I had with JUST my husband and having money to spend on frivolous BS. I came so close to contacting a family attorney and file for divorce because my resentment over my husband not “doing enough” to find a job was too much stress than I could take on top of PPD.

 

I get it. And I also agree that your husband has postpartum depression. It has been found in the scientific community that Men can also get PPD. Having a baby is a major life changing event.

 

Counseling barely helped. I had to cycle through three different therapists because the first two were a joke. The first visits telling me to ”stay positive” and not giving me solid advice was not enough. The third one sort of helped me get my head on straight... but by then things were becoming more settled and my husband *finally* got his job back.

 

Give it some time. I wouldn’t call for couples counseling... HE needs individual counseling for himself during this major life changing transition. Also... breastfeeding IS work, and it’s something a man will never understand. Don’t let him shame you over feeding your kid.

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Instead of getting defensive about what you do, why not validate for him that he IS doing more in this partnership than he ever has before. It's not a knock to you that you are doing less. You've been recovering, nursing, and caring for the baby. That can be true at the same time as acknowledging that he is the one pulling a bigger load at this time. You had a move while you weren't feeling well and nursing, it makes sense he has done more of the grunt work. It's ok. Sometimes it's just life, but it's important to not get stuck in making it a blame game.

 

Yeah, I haven't had a baby. So my experience is different, up to you if you take it or leave it. Closest experience I had was caring full time for my mom when she was dying, and my partner absolutely took on the brunt of our day to day work for me. I wasn't sitting around doing nothing, I was doing something important just as you are by taking time to care for the baby and recover. But that didn't, doesn't, take away from what was on his shoulders. He was a freakin hero during that time.

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I'm sorry Leseine.

 

Your story takes me back to those days of post baby adjustment. I know me telling you that that challenging adjustment time is pretty typical probably doesn't help at this very moment. But I hope there is some comfort in knowing that we all go through it.

 

Have you and your husband had any time alone as a couple? I understand you don't have family close by (?) but are you able to get away for an evening? I think some couple time might bring you two closer and would serve as a great reminder that you two are on the same team and need to support each other.

 

We have not had much - if any - time alone as a couple, which I suspect is an enormous factor. We both used to be VERY conscious of couple time and would prioritise that even during busy or difficult times.

 

Part of the problem IMO is my husband seems to feel extremely guilty if we do anything without our daughter. I nannied for years before having her and I guess I might have a more relaxed view on things, because I fully adore and love her, but I don't have the same feeling of anxiety if we do something alone as a couple (obviously making sure she's in good hands in our absence). He's uber anxious about her being abandoned or us being "That couple that can't ever do things WITH the baby" and wants her along for every minute. I love that about him, but I also think it would be really nice if he could relax and have dinner out with me and know that our family friend, who is a mom of two and going to be taking care of her one day a week when we are both back at work full time in November, is probably not going to neglect our child!!

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Did you know that new fathers can also suffer depression? Maybe he can speak with his doctor.

 

I'm ashamed to say that I did not know (although I could imagine) that men suffer from PPD as well. After researching this a little, I am alarmed and actually do think he fits the description. The tricky thing is getting HIM to consider a doc, because after discussing my concerns with him as calmly and lovingly as I could, he still viewed everything I was saying as criticism and kept repeating, "I'm happy!!!" Which is probably TRUE, in theory, but I see a lot of concerning reactions/ behaviours (yelling and getting frustrated at the drop of a hat, etc.), that are completely unnatural for him.

 

I might consider talking with the doctor alone about it to see what they say?

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Yes, this and I am sorry to hear about what you are going through. As an aside it melted my heart to read your description about your love for your baby. Oh I can relate, I get it, welcome to mothering and this boundless love!

 

To add - my husband and I had no opportunity for any couple time at this time (no family to watch him, etc and I wouldn't have left our infant with a sitter at that time.

 

I think you need to tell your husband when things are ok/calm using I statements (yes again) that you are particularly vulnerable right now and his 'jokes" hurt your feelings a lot. I wouldn't do the whole list of things you do every day that go unnoticed. It's just not effective IMO despite having so much appeal/being tempting (I'm speaking for myself).

 

Tell him that you need to see consistent change on this issue -not the flip flop yo yo stuff because then you're waiting for the other shoe to drop.

 

Also can you hire someone to clean? When my son was an infant and we lived in a one bedroom the first 3 months we had a lady come every two weeks. She was great and calm and gave me motherly advice too.

 

I totally get that you don't want to paint him as monstrous. You have not, not in the least. I am sure he is sleep deprived/cramped/feeling pushed aside (through no fault of your own -it's just life!).

 

My husband and I had arguments at this time - I still remember clearly many of the details and this was 10 years ago. It was a tough time for sure.

 

Please vent here if it helps. I hope I was supportive. I get it. Everything is going to be all right!

 

What a comfort this was to read. And wow, what a similar circumstance with the 3 months of 1 BR life with a newborn! I have considered hiring a cleaner, and probably will do so. Outsourcing can only help, I've learned :)

 

I do think he and I need time to reconnect and to put - even a little - more attention towards each other. I am abundantly grateful I married someone who is at LEAST as infatuated and excited about being a parent as I am, but at the same time we probably will both sleep better at night knowing that we didn't sacrifice the years of joy and fun between us.

 

Also, I do think the "laundry list" I make does nothing to help. I will approach this differently. If he questions what I do, the best way to go is probably NOT to actually make the list of "well, I did this, and this, and THIS..." you get the picture. In a perfect world, he'd already have seen all those things, but life is DEF NOT PERFECT as new neurotic parents!

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I think he's got male post partum depression. It's all new to him about how to be a dad and yet have a life. I think a bit of counseling would help both of you learn to communicate better and make the adjustment be being parents. It's not easy, for sure, but with effort it can get better.

 

This is something I looked into after it was suggested to me, and I am alarmed by how many of the boxes he ticks off. I am going to set up an appointment for us with our GP for the coming week.

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Instead of getting defensive about what you do, why not validate for him that he IS doing more in this partnership than he ever has before. It's not a knock to you that you are doing less. You've been recovering, nursing, and caring for the baby. That can be true at the same time as acknowledging that he is the one pulling a bigger load at this time. You had a move while you weren't feeling well and nursing, it makes sense he has done more of the grunt work. It's ok. Sometimes it's just life, but it's important to not get stuck in making it a blame game.

 

Yeah, I haven't had a baby. So my experience is different, up to you if you take it or leave it. Closest experience I had was caring full time for my mom when she was dying, and my partner absolutely took on the brunt of our day to day work for me. I wasn't sitting around doing nothing, I was doing something important just as you are by taking time to care for the baby and recover. But that didn't, doesn't, take away from what was on his shoulders. He was a freakin hero during that time.

 

I had to quote this whole thing. You're absolutely right - he IS doing so so much more. He's currently on parental leave from his job to be home with our babe for these two months. (I had maternity leave for the first three months, his company is awesome and gives dads two months after that). He was always eager to be a Dad, but it's alarming and scary and I totally get that. He's always thinking about ways to keep her healthy and to engage her while I'm at work.

 

It doesn't help that we live in a foreign country where he is the native speaker(Dutch) and so he defaults as the responsible party for any new home things that are quirky and leave me scratching my head. The other day I couldn't figure out how our friggin heating system worked - and I actually speak Dutch now too. It's a lot on his plate, and I so do not want to ignore all that.

 

I think a tactic I need to take is going back to meditating when I can, since a lot of the defensiveness comes from old anxiety thoughts ("he doesn't like me anymore," "I suck as a mom and wife," etc etc), and whenever I feel the need to defend, take a deep breath.

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We have not had much - if any - time alone as a couple, which I suspect is an enormous factor. We both used to be VERY conscious of couple time and would prioritise that even during busy or difficult times.

 

Part of the problem IMO is my husband seems to feel extremely guilty if we do anything without our daughter. I nannied for years before having her and I guess I might have a more relaxed view on things, because I fully adore and love her, but I don't have the same feeling of anxiety if we do something alone as a couple (obviously making sure she's in good hands in our absence). He's uber anxious about her being abandoned or us being "That couple that can't ever do things WITH the baby" and wants her along for every minute. I love that about him, but I also think it would be really nice if he could relax and have dinner out with me and know that our family friend, who is a mom of two and going to be taking care of her one day a week when we are both back at work full time in November, is probably not going to neglect our child!!

 

Try date "breakfast" at home -like if she is napping or "date coffee" to reconnect at home while she is napping, etc - it doesn't have to mean a sitter or going out or leaving her - I got this advice from a mom of 8 children married to a man who is really active in the community. I don't think you have to sacrifice the couple part just because you have a baby -you also can connect when baby is right there

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What, exactly, does he want you to do that he believes you're not doing?

 

If you don't know that answer to this, it means that he's speaking in abstractions--and nobody has a shot at tackling those because they mean different things to different people. So I'd ask for specifics. Not when he's edgy, but when he's in a generous mood. I'd tell him that I want a list from him of things of value to him so that I can try to negotiate at least some of those actions into my days. He can even prioritize the list.

 

If he balks at this, I'd stay on it in a way that is kind spirited and peppered with appreciation for many of the things he does for our family. I'd consider it a personal favor if he'd be specific about the areas of our household where he feels least supported while giving me the information I need to address those areas a practical way.

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What, exactly, does he want you to do that he believes you're not doing?

 

That's my question, too. Did you ask him?

 

What stood out to me is this:

 

If he does eventually open up, it's usually in anger, and he'll tell me how he's exhausted because he's "Doing everything" and I'm not doing anything. If I react by telling him all the things I'm doing around the house/ in life in general, he says nothing and then challenges it by saying, "You make that sound like it's much of anything."

 

I think it could help your situation if you react with a question instead of a defense.

 

There's no doubt in my mind that you have a lot on your plate with your new baby. Both of you.

 

But when you respond by defending yourself--even if your defense is justified--It usually makes the other person feel like they're not being heard. And in some ways, they actually aren't being heard.

 

Maybe there's something easy that you can help him with. Maybe you can trade chores in a way that would benefit both of you. Maybe there's nothing you can do... but it still helps to ask and have a conversation about it and entertain the idea shifting things around a little.

 

Having the chance to talk, vent, and brainstorm about the problem could help to ease both of your frustrations.

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That's my question, too. Did you ask him?

 

What stood out to me is this:

 

 

 

I think it could help your situation if you react with a question instead of a defense.

 

There's no doubt in my mind that you have a lot on your plate with your new baby. Both of you.

 

But when you respond by defending yourself--even if your defense is justified--It usually makes the other person feel like they're not being heard. And in some ways, they actually aren't being heard.

 

Maybe there's something easy that you can help him with. Maybe you can trade chores in a way that would benefit both of you. Maybe there's nothing you can do... but it still helps to ask and have a conversation about it and entertain the idea shifting things around a little.

 

Having the chance to talk, vent, and brainstorm about the problem could help to ease both of your frustrations.

 

Yes, exactly where I was going in my thinking as well. It reminds you that you are on the same team, and are there for each other.

Even in a super loving, supportive relationship sometimes edges get frayed. It's ok, it's a workable situation because you do honestly have each other's best interests in mind and each other's backs.

 

We have been moving this weekend. No baby, and it's enough work with regular things to do as well!

At one point today, in between ' ok now this, now that, you got that?' , I stopped him to give him a hug. He sort of slumped into me and told me his back was killing him, he really needed that hug. He had not let on at all! And I've found that with a lot of men, sorry to generalize here, that they will suck it up and keep it to themselves until it's at breaking point or some catalyst interrupts it.

 

I was thinking of your thread after, and how little check ins like that have been like a glue for us.

 

You both sound like amazing people and partners, so I'm wishing you the best with moving forward.

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I'm ashamed to say that I did not know (although I could imagine) that men suffer from PPD as well. After researching this a little, I am alarmed and actually do think he fits the description. The tricky thing is getting HIM to consider a doc, because after discussing my concerns with him as calmly and lovingly as I could, he still viewed everything I was saying as criticism and kept repeating, "I'm happy!!!" Which is probably TRUE, in theory, but I see a lot of concerning reactions/ behaviours (yelling and getting frustrated at the drop of a hat, etc.), that are completely unnatural for him.

 

I might consider talking with the doctor alone about it to see what they say?

 

Absolutely speak with your doctor for some advice.

 

Men don't always recognize depression for what it is - and that's why it's tricky. And almost no one realizes that men can have PPD. Not to mention, many people deny they're dealing with it out of shame or confusion, etc.

 

I have a just-turned three-year-old, so it hasn't been that long since I've lived through the new baby phase. If you want to chat, feel free to message me. :)

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Try date "breakfast" at home -like if she is napping or "date coffee" to reconnect at home while she is napping, etc - it doesn't have to mean a sitter or going out or leaving her - I got this advice from a mom of 8 children married to a man who is really active in the community. I don't think you have to sacrifice the couple part just because you have a baby -you also can connect when baby is right there

 

We do this. My little guy just turned three, and we've only ever left him with my mom - and only during the day when my husband's been at work and I've needed to go out without him. So what we do, instead of date nights out, is we instituted a strict bedtime once our son turned 2.5, and that gives us a few hours each evening to just be a couple. We watch TV, play video games, have sex...whatever we want.

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We do this. My little guy just turned three, and we've only ever left him with my mom - and only during the day when my husband's been at work and I've needed to go out without him. So what we do, instead of date nights out, is we instituted a strict bedtime once our son turned 2.5, and that gives us a few hours each evening to just be a couple. We watch TV, play video games, have sex...whatever we want.

 

Same. We've had him on a routine bedtime since he was 10 weeks old (when he started sleeping through the night, which he did until he was almost 7 years old and we hit a long rough patch). But generally we get couple time every night and sometimes now that he is in school we do day dates.

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